INDIANAPOLIS – Ben Simmons takes a backseat to 76ers center Joel Embiid when it comes to scoring.
Swingman Jimmy Butler is the Sixer who’s best with the ball when the game is on the line. So it’s hard to compare Simmons to fellow point guards Kyrie Irving of Boston and and Kemba Walker of Charlotte.
“I just do what the team needs me to do,” Simmons said. “I’ve been consistent. I put up my numbers. I just want to win. That’s my priority.
“Everything else will take care of itself. But the level I’m playing is high.”
It’s hard to argue that.
The 2017-18 rookie of the year averaged 19.1 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 10.1 assists in the six games before Thursday night’s visit to the Indiana Pacers.
He had averaged 16.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, and a league fifth-best 8.2 assists per game through 44 games. The 6-foot-10, 240-pounder’s seven triple-doubles ranked second in the NBA. And he was tied for sixth with 28 double-doubles.
His ability to get the ball to Embiid, Butler, and JJ Redick at the right times stands out to his coach. Brett Brown believes the former power forward is “connecting dots” and growing as a point guard and “still putting his own thumbprint on a game.”
“I think he’s an All-Star, as I’ve said,” Brown said. “I’ll say it again.”
But he’ll probably have to rely on the Eastern Conference coaches’ votes to play in the NBA All-Star Game, scheduled for Feb. 17 in Charlotte, N.C.
Irving leads all Eastern Conference guards with 3,187,105 votes in the third NBA All-Star fan returns. Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (1,738,043) is second, followed by Walker (1,156,040) and Simmons (941,368) in the top four.
Fans account for 50 percent of the vote to determine the 10 starters for the game. A selected media panel and current NBA players will each account for 25 percent of the vote. The voters must pick two guards and three frontcourt players from each conference. Voting will conclude at 11:59 p.m. Monday.
The top three frontcourt and top two backcourt vote-getters in each conference will make up the 10 all-star starters. The reserves are selected by the coaches.
Embiid (2,292, 511) and Jimmy Butler (740,778) are third and fifth, respectively, in fan returns for conference frontcount players.
Embiid was named an All-Star starter last season, while Butler played in the last four All-Star Games. Simmons, however, was snubbed last season. He was passed over in favor of Miami Heat point guard Goran Dragic and Walker as replacements for power forwards Kristaps Porizingis of the New York Knicks and Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Last season, the thought was that Simmons was a rookie and that he would become a perennial All-Star in due time. Dragic was a veteran point guard deserving of the award. This year, Wade is in his 16th and final season. Walker and Irving are both are in their eighth season.
""I don’t think a year has anything to do with it," Simmons said of people’s saying he’ll have time to become an All-Star. “If that was the case, you wouldn’t allow second-year players, third-season [players] whatever it is as an All-Star.”